Amid Pittsburgh funerals, synagogue suspect pleads not responsible

FILE PHOTO: People pray at a makeshift memorial near the Tree of Life synagogue following Saturday's shooting at the synagogue in Pittsburgh

By Chriss Swaney

PITTSBURGH (Reuters) – The person accused of fatally capturing 11 worshipers in a Pittsburgh synagogue throughout Sabbath prayers pleaded not responsible on Thursday to federal hate crimes costs and different offenses as town’s Jewish neighborhood buried three extra of its useless.

Robert Bowers, 46, who had been wounded in a gunfight with police and made his preliminary courtroom look on Monday shackled to a wheelchair, walked into Thursday’s continuing upright and with out want of help, sporting a crimson jumpsuit and a bandage on his left arm.

He spoke little, aside from to say he understood the fees and that a few of them may result in the demise penalty, then entered a plea of not responsible to all 44 counts towards him. He additionally requested a jury trial.

He appeared positive of foot and exuded a demeanor of confidence, answering questions put to him by U.S. District Decide Robert Mitchell in a transparent voice and signing papers with a gradual hand.

The indictment returned towards him on Wednesday consists of 11 counts of obstructing free train of faith leading to demise, and 11 counts of utilizing a firearm to commit homicide.

A onetime truck driver who continuously posted anti-Semitic slurs and conspiracy theories on-line, Bowers is accused of bursting into the Tree of Life synagogue final Saturday with a semi-automatic rifle and three pistols and opening fireplace within the midst of Sabbath prayers as he shouted “All Jews should die.”

Along with the principally aged congregants who died, two have been wounded, together with 4 cops, earlier than the suspect was shot by police and surrendered.

It marked the deadliest assault ever on American Jewry. Prosecutors have mentioned they may search the demise penalty.


Following a spate of politically motivated pipe-bomb mailing to outstanding Democrats, the capturing heightened nationwide tensions days forward of elections subsequent Tuesday that can determine whether or not U.S. President Donald Trump will lose the Republican majority he enjoys in each homes of Congress.

The bloodbath additionally fueled a debate over Trump’s inflammatory political rhetoric and his self-identification as a “nationalist,” which critics say has fomented a surge in right-wing extremism and will have even helped provoke Saturday’s bloodshed.

The Trump administration has rejected the notion that he has inspired white nationalists and neo-Nazis who’ve embraced him, insisting he’s making an attempt to unify America at the same time as he continues to disparage the media as an “enemy of the folks.”

Trump, shrugging off protests that he was unwelcome within the metropolis, made a short, low-key go to to Pittsburgh on Tuesday to pay condolences as funerals have been held for the primary 4 victims laid to relaxation.

Three extra funerals have been held on Wednesday, adopted on Thursday by the burial of one other three victims – Sylvan Simon, 86, and his spouse, Bernice, 84, who had been married for practically 62 years, and Dr. Richard Gottfried, 65, a dentist, who shared a apply together with his spouse, Peg.

Augie Siriano, a custodian at Tree of Life, mentioned the Simons typically introduced him chocolate chip cookies, and that Sylvan Simon, a retired accountant, appreciated to speak in regards to the Pittsburgh Steelers skilled soccer staff. His spouse was a retired nurse. “They have been simply fantastic, swish folks,” Siriano mentioned.

Dr. Jane Segal, a dentist who graduated from the College of Pittsburgh a 12 months forward of Gottfried, remembered him as a “fantastic man and a beautiful dentist.”

“You could not discover anybody finer,” she mentioned.

Bowers additionally has been charged in state courtroom with 11 counts of felony murder and 13 counts of ethnic intimidation, although authorities have mentioned prosecution of the federal case will take priority.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Writing by Nick Carey; Enhancing by Steve Gorman and Clive McKeef)

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